Come for the sentence, stay for the prices

By Seth Ogilvie

This summer, Idaho inmates picked up their prison-issued tablets and, as if they were sitting on a couch in their living room surfing Amazon, placed items in their shopping carts. Shopping on tablets is something non-incarcerated people regularly do. The similarity in the shopping in prison and outside, however, is also a reminder that beneath the surface of those tablets, the process is vastly different.

Idaho prisoners are allowed to purchase JP5 tablets from the JPAY company. They look like iPads, and they can be used to send email, download songs, games and — as the JPAY company likes to highlight in their state contracts — they can be used for education.

JPAY tablet
That’s about where the similarities end. These aren’t iPads, and the JPAY commissary isn’t the Amazon emporium. Prisoners can’t get on iTunes or watch videos on Youtube. Sending an email costs 47 cents, and music costs as much as $3.50 in virtual money. These are services people outside prison cells take for granted.

These prices also have to be put into perspective. Prisoners in Idaho’s correctional institutions receive virtual money that “runs from 10 cents an hour for low-skill jobs to 30 cents an hour for high-skill jobs,” according to the Idaho Department of Corrections website. That could mean after a 40 hour work week, a low skilled prison worker could send nine emails or download one song.

Friends and family are also allowed to fill JPAY accounts with virtual money, but they get no deal on the services. That means they, too, are stuck paying the high price tag.

In Idaho prisons, there is no competition for prices. JPAY has the monopoly, and they want to keep it that way. Documents obtained by the Prison Policy Initiative show a business strategy focused on cutting down competition and controlling prices.

In 2015, Securus, a prison-focused technology company, acquired JPAY. The merger allowed them to provide almost all technology needs for an individual prison or state, and since they are the sole provider of services, they can set the price at virtually any level as long as the corrections department they are contracting with will allow it.

The only people likely to complain about the high prices would be the prisoners and their families, groups that seldom get much sympathy from legislators and the public. The high rates can also be perceived as a punitive measure by citizens outside of prison — “You did the crime, now time to pay the price.”

This summer, prisoners at Idaho correctional facilities found a workaround. Some people called it a hack, some called it a glitch, but to 363 Idaho inmates, it was a heck of a deal.

Inmates discovered that if items were added to their shopping carts either through tablets or kiosks, then those items were deleted, their accounts were credited with the cost.

“JPAY was not hacked. Kiosks were not breached. Tablets were not breached.” Julie McKay told the Idaho Board of Corrections in early August.

Inmates, according to the DOC, credited their accounts with $224,772 in virtual money, with about 50 people exceeding $1,000 and one person getting close $10,000.

“On the 23rd of July, the system was patched,” McKay told the DOC board earlier this month.

The response from social media highlighted several aspects of the system. The glitch brought frustrations about high prices, corporate oversight and prison labor to twitter.

JPAY_tweets3

Tweets supporting the prisoners came rolling in. The narrative on social media took on a Robin Hood-type quality. JPAY has contracts with 20 states. They are the exclusive provider and set the prices in many places outside of Idaho.

JPAY mapFor many on Twitter, the prisoners were finally getting one over on a company that has got one over on the prisoners for years.

IDOC and JPAY saw it differently. They saw the actions as theft, even if the theft was virtual and those who participated received disciplinary reports and were charged by JPAY for items purchased.

Those that were rooting for the prisoners, however, can take a little solace in the fact that they were able to keep the content they purchased, according to Idaho Department of Correction spokesman Jeff Ray.

Let’s hope at least one inmate downloaded Merle Haggard’s “I Made the Prison Band” it would serve as a reminder that there are other ways to hear music in prison. The digitally remastered song cost less than half the JPAY rate at $1.29 on Amazon.

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Come as you are, as I want you to be

 

PJ (1 of 1)By Seth Ogilvie, Idaho Reports

Bob Sojka has had a complicated month. Lately, he and the Democratic Party have had two particularly interesting moments.

The incidents both involved influential female leaders.

Sojka is the State Committeeman for the Twin Falls Democratic Party. At a Sunday picnic sponsored by the party, gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan made an appearance.

According to the Times-News, Sojka told the crowd “this is the prom,” referring to the event, “and the prom queen is here,” referring to Jordan.

At the Idaho Democratic Convention Sojka walked to a microphone and told several women and people of color “we deserve an apology.”

Sojka’s demand came after he argued with one of the organizers of Boise’s immigration rally. Thousands of people marched to the steps of the Idaho Statehouse to demand changes to the current immigration policy in the wake of child detention and family separation.

The majority of people at the convention supported the protest but not necessarily their goals. The rally happened just hours before Sojka’s demand.

The Sojka “prom queen” statement could quickly be written off as an innocent comment of an older white man not realizing how it might come across, but that’s the point. Sojka didn’t have to merge his theoretical embrace of diversity with its reality. He didn’t have to unite his support of the protests with what he would be supporting.

A prom queen is traditionally elected based on two criteria, popularity or beauty. Their duties consist of getting their photos taken and serving as an emblem for a high school. They are not vested with or expected to perform any significant responsibilities, nor are they elected for their ability or their character.

The prom queen and king also reinforce strict gender roles. The crown confers that the recipient is either male or female other options are not available.

We reached out to Bob Sojka multiple times over the last month. He has not returned any messages.

Twitter, however, had no problem commenting.

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 12.43.21 PMScreen Shot 2018-07-21 at 12.41.57 PM

“I think that it’s a pretty superficial term for a woman that has held office,” Caitlin Copple Masingill, a precinct captain for the Idaho Democrats told Idaho Reports. “This was something to call out.”

Copple was concerned about the repercussions of a statement like this. “It takes a woman being asked an average 12 times before they’ll agree to run,” Copple said. “I think this will make them more hesitant because, with comments like these, it’s that much harder to be taken seriously.”

Sojka may not have realized how the comments would come across, but he had to have had an intention of saying it. We have found no instances of Sojka referring to A.J. Balukoff, Keith Allred or Jerry Brady as the prom king.

He could have said the next Governor of the State of Idaho (a fairly common practice). He could have said the parties leader, he could have even said the new Idaho matriarch if Sojka was determined to inject gender, but he didn’t.

That brings us back to the idea of the emblem. For a straight white man in Idaho, it’s easy to like the idea of diversity. It is easy because, for many Idahoans, it’s theoretical. It’s not uncommon for people in Boise, a supposed hotbed of liberalism, to go an entire day without knowingly talking to a person of color or a person from the LGBTQ community.

Without familiarity, it’s easy to transpose one’s ideas, values, and desires onto the blank canvass of that other individual. A Native American woman can be perceived as the same as that straight white man as long as they stay theoretical, as long as all of their hopes, dreams, values, and abilities remain unknown.

Conversely, people can be vilified without familiarity. We’ve seen it throughout history in racist or xenophobic ideology.

At the Idaho Democratic Convention Jennifer Martinez introduced an amendment to the Democratic body that would support the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The debate was heated. The majority of the people in the room wanted to support the protests going on that same day. They didn’t want children separated from their parents. They knew the compassionate, and moral thing to do was to stand up for these families, and they wanted to be on the side of the protestors, but the demonstrators had aims.

They did not support what Martinez, one of the event organizers, said was the aim of the protests.

Their aims were the abolition of ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). These aims were not popular with the majority of the people in the room. The protest like the prom queen would be more appealing for some without the ideological baggage.

An argument broke out at the convention. One side wanted to support the protestors, but not the aims to abolish ICE and CBP.  Sojka joined that side. The others claimed you couldn’t support a protest without supporting the goals of the rally.

After several minutes of debate, Martinez’s amendment died.

Jessica Chilcott took the microphone after the vote. “We had a chance to be an ally to communities of color, and we rejected it. If we’re going to, as a room full of white people claim that we’re allies for people of color, we should try to act like it.”

Chilcott put a spotlight on the issue Democrats in Idaho are facing. Being theoretically in favor of diversity is different from accepting diversity for what it is.

The Idaho Democratic party has always marketed itself as tolerant, accepting and as a big tent. The Democratic party has always promoted diversity, but this year diversity has had a voice, diversity had ideas, and diversity had goals.

Woman and minorities have taken up the highest positions in the party.

At the Democratic convention, delegates learned that being in favor of the idea of protests is different from being in support of their goals.

This year diversity walked into the convention and started yelling inside its walls. The diversity could no longer be theoretical, and for some, that was not what they wanted to hear.

Sojka pounced on this moment. He demanded an apology from Chilcott. He claimed Chilcott and the others arguing with him did not understand what was in his heart. “We’ve been doing things that she has absolutely no freaking knowledge of,” said Sojka.

Chilcott responded, “we don’t get to decide what they want.”

I reached out to Sojka shortly after his comments to find out what they had “absolutely no freaking knowledge of.” He has not returned my request for comment.

Idaho Reports has also reached out to the Jordan campaign who also has not returned my request for comment.

Chilcott had little doubt what the performance meant. “There have been ongoing concerns voiced by communities of color, both locally and nationally, about how the Democratic Party expects their support without doing its best to address the issues faced by those communities,” Chilcott wrote Idaho Reports. “What I felt was happening was more performative allyship. If we will not boldly work to dismantle an abusive, racist system, what good are we as allies?”

Another delegate at the convention put it much more bluntly, looking across the floor to where Sojka had just demanded an apology. “We all need to check our privileges,” she said. “Especially the white men.”

 

Correction: A previous version of this story identified Bob Sojka as the head of the Twin Falls Democrats rather than the State Committeeman.

 

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With friends like these

By Seth Ogilvie, Idaho Reports

Last week, Republican lieutenant governor candidate Janice McGeachin made a post on Facebook. The post linked to an Idaho Politics Weekly story, and echoed a general Republican talking point about why Trump is popular: “He is keeping the promises he made to the voters…”

A few days later, the conversation went off the rails. A comment about white nationalism, a Bundy sympathizer, outrage from centrists and a candidate trying to keep everyone happy pulled the conversation into an ideological circus tent.

Thank you Bob

Bob Jackson posted “I’m proud to be white again!” to which McGeachin responded, “Thank you Bob!”

Jackson then responded back to Rep. McGeachin saying “Thank you Janice McGeachin, with your leadership we’ll take back this state!”

The first objection came from Robbie DeLeon: “Janice McGeachin Why should anyone who isn’t white vote for you after seeing these comments? If you want to represent our state you need to represent everyone, not just white conservatives.”

McGeachin did not respond or thank DeLeon, but Jackson did saying “She clearly doesn’t need your vote OR ANY OF YOUR LIBERSL BUDDIES. THIS IS IDAHO! GO RED WAVE! #MAGA or #GTFO.

The thread played out like this for almost 24 hours. Idaho Reports then contacted McGeachin, asking “Does Janice McGeachin support the sentiment ‘I’m proud to be white again?’”

“I hope the voters in Idaho know that I believe that our country should celebrate diversity,” McGeachin told Idaho Reports in an email. “My ‘thank you’ was in response to his support of Trump and my campaigns.”

McGeachin then posted a video from Eric Parker. Parker is best known for his involvement in the Bundy ranch standoff. The video compares the 1st and 2nd Amendments, and encourages people to be as disciplined with their words as they are with their firearms, stating “Stop shooting the people around you and start shooting the target.”

The video can still be found on Parker’s Facebook page.

Later Monday afternoon McGeachin deleted all the posts and the video and replaced it with this statement:

Statement McGeachin

Idaho Reports reached out to Jackson and received this statement shortly after the thread was deleted. We’ve copied and pasted it without editing. Warning: There is profanity.

“I’m so mad I’m shakin. She posts about why Trump is getting support and I thank her, she thanks me, then all hell brakes lose. I ask sone of my millitia buddies to push back on the hate I was getting then next thing u know bitch tells me to watch myself and I’m getting beat up by Eric Parker himself for saying things he says all the time. Check FB him and me are/were friends. Now his goons are telling me I’m not wrong, just whatch where I post. Anyway it looks like its over because the bitch deleted my post and put me in FB jail so I can’t post comments to her stuff. McGeachin has no integrity. Can’t support the second while wiping your feet on the first or something like that.”

Idaho Reports cannot verify several of the claims Jackson makes in this statement. We reached out to McGeachin about Jackson’s comments and she declined to comment.

Below is the entire thread for context:

 

 

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Traditional values, societal change: Young Idaho Republicans navigate their place in the party

By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports

 

On Friday afternoon, Russ Fulcher, Republican nominee for Congressional District 1, addressed conservatives gathered from around the state at the Idaho Republican Party State Convention.

Among his two sets of grandparents, one side was Republican, while the others were Democrats. Still, they agreed on most issues, Fulcher told the crowd.

That wouldn’t be the case today, he continued. While the Republican party has remained true to its small government principles, “let’s look what happened on the other side,” he said. Arguments on economic issues and open borders would be making his grandparents “turn in their graves.”

While Democrats both in-state and nationwide champion new leadership, fresh faces and progress, Idaho Republicans spent time at their convention celebrating their unchanging values.

All the while, the Republican Party is trying to navigate how to interface their core beliefs with public policy.  Meanwhile, some young conservatives are wondering if they have a place in the GOP’s present, and when they’ll be welcome to be involved in its future.

 

Looking for a welcome mat

A few hours earlier before Fulcher’s speech, Dom Gelsomino sat in the Holt Arena’s stadium seating, quietly discussing his plans to challenge a platform proposal opposing same sex marriage during a Saturday morning floor session.

“I will be arguing that government has no place in marriage whatsoever,” said

20180630_121753

Dom Gelsomino, 25, tried to persuade his fellow Idaho Republicans to support marriage equality at the party’s state convention on Saturday. Melissa Davlin/Idaho Reports

Gelsomino, a 25-year-old former legislative candidate from Boise. He pointed to then-candidate Donald Trump’s speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention, in which Trump said people should be more open minded toward the LGBT community.

Plus, Gelsomino added, marriage equality is a conservative issue. “We need to end this constant expansion of government in the affairs of marriage.”

Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, sat behind him and listened. “So how should we deal with divorce issues related to property and custody?” asked Rice, a divorce attorney.

“That’s an interesting matter,” replied Gelsomino, adding civil issues such as those are different than who should be allowed to ordain a marriage.

Ultimately, Gelsomino said, the majority of young Republicans favor gay marriage — a statement backed up by Pew Research Center, which reports 58 percent of Republicans born after 1980 are in support. A similar majority is in favor of marijuana legalization.

But for the most part, attendees of the Republican convention were born well before 1980. That’s not a problem for the Idaho Republican Party right now. The state party has a reserve of active organizers and candidates, as well as donors with deep pockets.

But Gelsomino says the party is losing out by not listening to younger voices.

“There are issues that I don’t feel are being addressed, or are addressed but end up being defeated,” Gelsomino said citing CBD as another example. While the party welcomes young participants on the surface, most Republicans stand firm in their beliefs without allowing much room for discussion on other viewpoints, he said.

Rice argued it’s not that the party doesn’t make room for young people. Rather, he said, “our tendency is to desire articulate, thoughtful leaders, and people become more articulate and more thoughtful as they age.”

By that measure, the Idaho Legislature is theoretically full of articulate, thoughtful lawmakers; The average age was 63 in 2016.

But there is an influx of relatively young faces in the House GOP caucus, said House Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane: Priscilla Giddings, Dustin Manwaring, Bryan Zollinger, James Holtzclaw, Paul Amador, and Greg Chaney, and newly elected representative Britt Raybould, all in their 30s and early 40s.

There are also young Republicans working behind the scenes: A number of state party staffers, campaign workers and volunteers are in their 20s. But most prominent elected GOP officials are in their 50s, 60s or 70s.

Crane, a Nampa Republican, was elected to House leadership when he was in his 30s. Now 44, he acknowledges that nationwide, Democrats have done a better job of engaging young people.

“I think the Democrats are looking to the future,” Crane said, pointing to 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic Congressional nominee from New York.

Republicans, however, “have some work to do.”

The challenge, said Idaho State Tax Commissioner Janet Moyle, is tying traditional values to societal and generational changes.

“Because the truth of the matter is the youth is our future, and if you exclude them your party doesn’t go anywhere,” Moyle said.

Gelsomino has had friends ask why he doesn’t identify as a Democrat. “Because I’m a Republican,” he quips. Gelsomino grew up in an Italian Roman Catholic family, and believes in small government and other conservative principles.

He sees a future for himself in politics. The question is the timeline. He recalled a conversation with a older Republican lawmaker — he declined to say which one — who said he would do well in office “when you’re my age.”

That’s not going to work for Gelsomino, he said. “I can’t wait forty, fifty years.”

 

Percolating ideas

Saturday morning, as the party considered plank proposals during the convention’s floor session, Gelsomino walked up to the microphone and made his argument.

20180630_094335

Dom Gelsomino, left, talks to Rep. Mike Moyle, Shara Zollinger, and Rep. Bryan Zollinger before Saturday’s floor session at the Republican State Conention. After Gelsomino argued unsuccessfully for the Republican Party to support marriage equality in its platform, Zollinger tweeted out a message of support: “We as Republicans are and need to remain the party of inclusion, less intrusive government means government has no business in licensing families. Thank you for reminding some of these party principles.” Melissa Davlin/Idaho Reports

With a clear voice, he argued that conservatives should embrace limited government in people’s personal lives, that Christianity encourages love and acceptance, that President Trump is on the same page.

 

Rice stood in the back and listened. The longer Gelsomino spoke, the more the crowd began to grumble, with some people yelling for order. “I don’t care if someone’s gay,” one delegate muttered to Rice.

“Dom needs to say this,” Rice countered.

Ultimately, the Republicans voted against Gelsomino and adopted a plank proposal asserting the right of states to reject federal definitions of marriage. But, Rice noted, a number of delegates sided with Gelsomino.

“What Dom had to say will percolate in people’s minds,” Rice said. “Minds don’t all change at the same rate.”

But are young minds more open to new ideas than those in their 60s and 70s?

Not necessarily, Rice said. “They just have more time to change.”

 

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Democratic campaign manager advised fringe candidate Harley Brown on media attacks after police report

Updated 1:10 pm June 29 with comments from Bistline.

 

By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports

The campaign manager for a Democratic statewide candidate advised fringe Republican gubernatorial contender Harley Brown during Idaho’s primary election, offering tips on how to respond to reports that Brown threatened a radio host.

Anthony Shallat is the campaign manager for Democratic attorney general hopeful Bruce Bistline.

In a February email forwarded to media outlets, Shallat encouraged Brown to run, writing “I truly believe that the next step is for your presidential race is to put your name in the hat for governor this time around,” saying the move would generate media attention. Shallat then encouraged Brown in April to attack the media as “biased” and “unfair,” invoking President Donald Trump, in response to a police report filed by KBOI 670 host Nate Shelman.

Shallat, an attorney, said he offered advice to Brown as a friend, and had no official role or connection with the Brown campaign. He previously represented Brown during his 2016 presidential campaign, helping Brown with FEC compliance, he said.

Brown, a disabled veteran and perennial candidate in Idaho Republican primaries, is known for his biker persona, outlandish statements, and a viral 2014 Idaho Public Television gubernatorial debate (which, full disclosure, was moderated by this reporter).

But coverage of Brown took a more serious turn during the 2018 primary election after an on-air verbal altercation with Shelman. Upon finding out he wouldn’t be invited to KBOI 670’s governor debate, Brown cursed at Shelman, then left the studio. He then wrote “die motherf—–” in an email to Shelman.

Shelman filed a police report, as did Idaho Public Television after Brown sent a similarly threatening email regarding its debates.

In an April 3rd email to Brown, Shallat said a Statesman article covering the Shelman incident “could have been worse.”

“I suggest emphasizing two points,” Shallat wrote. “1. You are a peaceful man but the biased King Maker, Nate Shelman, made you upset because he is not letting the people decide who is the best candidate.”

“2. The media’s treatment of you is the same as what happened to Donald Trump. The media is picking and choosing who should be given a platform in politics. Its unfair and unamerican. The media tried shutting Donald Trump down but the people got him elected. You want to take your message to the people.”

“I also think you should call Nate Shelman ‘fake news,’” Shallat continued. “Do not resort to any threats, but expose his biased conduct.”

Brown forwarded the April email to Idaho Public Television in an attempt to prove he was running an active campaign and receiving media attention, one of the criteria for participation in IPTV’s debate. (Brown did not qualify for the debate, prompting another threatening email.)

In a Thursday interview with Idaho Reports, Shallat disputed Brown’s previous characterization that he volunteered for the campaign.

“The advice I gave Harley was essentially as a friend,” Shallat said. “I was never affiliated with him in any official capacity.”

Shallat said he did not stand by his earlier comments about Shelman and the media, but declined to say why he made them in the first place.

“I’ve given legal advice to Harley Brown on and off since 2014,” Shallat wrote in an email to Idaho Reports. “Although Harley and I disagree on most political views, I believe he is not only entitled to legal representation but also should be allowed to participate in the political process. In 2018, Harley sought my advice as someone who has helped him navigate the political and legal process before. At the time I corresponded with him in 2018, I was not serving as his attorney or in any official or unofficial capacity with his campaign for governor. Any suggestion otherwise is inaccurate.”

Shallat said he had informed some people at the Idaho Democratic Party about his association with the Republican candidate, but couldn’t say who knew.

Lindsey Snider, communications director for the Idaho Democratic Party, said Thursday IDP didn’t know about Shallat’s association with Brown. She declined further comment.

Bistline responded in a Friday e-mail to Idaho Reports:

“Sorry for the delay in responding.  Not surprisingly this went into my Trash file which I rarely check.  I am wondering why, with the many real problems effecting our community, you choose to spend your news budget on this.”

“From what I understand, Tony offered passing and casual advice to help Mr. Brown better convey his views about the treatment he was receiving from a a member of the media.  I belief that our system benefits when any candidate, even one I strongly disagree with and consider to be a fringe candidate, effectively conveys his message. Consequently, I am not troubled that Tony offered Mr. Brown some nominal assistance with his message.   Fake news generation and biased media power brokering are huge problems for our electoral system and need to be named and confronted every time they surface no matter who the candidate is or what their views may be.  Hopefully you already understand this.”

 

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A Total Election Miscommunication

This week the state’s highest elections office wrote letters to the most powerful political players alleging they had broken the law. The recipients may face fines for supposed campaign finance violations, but those letters could be going to innocent groups and people.

It’s 13 days after a critical campaign finance deadline. That number will be unlucky for 12 PACs and three people who face allegations by the state that they didn’t properly disclose the money they spent.

It’s not clear, however, whose at fault.

Several high-profile PACs, as late as June 27, appeared to be in violation of Idaho campaign finance laws, according to the Secretary of State’s office. The Idaho Realtors PAC who raised $651,518 and spent $259,611 in this year’s primary is the highest profile group that has been accused of violating state law by the elections office.

The Idaho Realtors PAC was one of the biggest spenders in the primary election. Cutting large checks for independent expenditures in favor of Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who was running as a gubernatorial candidate.

The filing deadline was June 14.

PACs and individuals could face a $50-a-day fine for their tardiness. Yet, “our goal is to get disclosure rather than to balance the budget on fine money,” said Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst to Idaho Reports Tuesday. “So we may coddle the candidates and PACs more than we should.”

The Idaho Realtors were not the only pro-Brad Little PAC who missed the June 14 deadline. The Agriculture & Natural Resources Industry PAC who raised $22,060 and spent $16,623, which included donations to Little, will also be receiving a fine letter. 

Many of the letter recipients may be confused when they open their mailbox.

Idaho Reports reached out to the Secretary of State’s office at 11:30 am on Tuesday with a list of PACs whose reports did not appear on the state’s website. Hurst responded in an email by saying “The PAC’s listed below have (y)et to file their post-primary reports. It has not yet been determined if a fine will be imposed.”

Idaho Reports then reached out to the six PACs Hurst said had not reported. Several did not respond.  Others disputed the idea that they had not reported.  

Sue Wigdorski, the treasurer for the Political Action Committee for Education, told Idaho Reports “I think you may not have the correct report. We did file on time.”

“The issue will be resolved by tomorrow at the latest,” wrote Max Pond of the Idaho Realtors to Idaho Reports in an email on Tuesday. The realtors have “a history of always accurately reporting and, in some cases, over-reporting. We will continue to do so.”

Around 3:30 pm, Hurst started to change the story. Idaho Reports had earlier asked about the Senate Democratic Caucus report. “Lisa told me the Senate Democratic Caucus has filed,” Hurst responded to Idaho Reports inquiry. “She is checking to see why it wasn’t posted and will get it there.”

At that same time, the secretary of state’s office began posting reports on the website which was 12 days after the deadline. Every sunshine disclosure pointed out by Idaho Reports had been posted by 4:00 pm except the Idaho Realtors PAC and the Senate Democratic caucus.

Idaho Reports asked Hurst if his previous statement that the PACs had yet to file was still accurate. Hurst said “the statement is no longer accurate. I just checked again with our campaign finance people who told me the reports for PACE (Political Action Committee for Education), Agriculture & Natural Resources Industry PAC, Idaho Wheat and Barley PAC, and IAFF Local I-83 Political Action Committee were received today.”

The reports are time stamped by the Secretary of State’s office. Two of the filings are in fact time stamped June 26, the day Hurst claimed. Two are not. Take a look:

IAFFPACEBarleyAG&NAT

A little after 4:00 pm on Tuesday, Idaho Reports received an email from Dorothy Canary of the Secretary of State’s office.

“We have received all of the reports that you listed except for Realtors PAC,” Canary said, “The fine letter went out in today’s mail so the fine will begin on June 28th of $50.00 dollars a day until the report is received in our office per Idaho Code 67-6625A.”

The realtors were not the only people to receive this letter. Several PACs that had already filed the 30-day report will also be receiving the message. Here is the list and status of all recipients as of Wednesday morning:

AIA Idaho Political Action Committee (No 30-day Report), Idaho Democratic Latino Caucus (No 30-day Report), Idaho Social List (Reported), Meridian Firefighters IAFF Local 4627 (Nothing reported this cycle), Opportunity Idaho Committee (Reported), Realtors PAC (No 30-day Report), Agriculture & Natural Resources Industry PAC (Reported), Idaho Wheat & Barley PAC (Reported), Fair Share Idaho (No 30-day Report), Keep Idaho Elections Accountable, Liberty Shoot (Nothing reported this cycle), Local 5005 Worley Firefighters PAC (No 30-day Report).

Three individuals who ran for elected office should also be checking their mail; Dalton B Cannady (No 30-day Report), LeeJoe Lay (Reported), Jay Waters III (Nothing reported this cycle).

“Prior to send(ing) out fine letters to those who missed the filing deadline,” Hurst said. “Our office calls and e-mails the various treasurers who have not filed reminding them to get their reports in.”

Despite the calls and emails there still appears to be some significant miscommunication in the process. Multiple people on the above list will receive a letter despite having already filed their 30-day report, and almost two weeks after the deadline there is still a slim chance of fines.

“This is a total miscommunication on my behalf,” Pond told Idaho Reports. “We will be in compliance today. I have successfully uploaded the documents.”

Shortly before this story published The Idaho Realtors PAC 30-day report appeared on the Secretary of States website.

 

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Idaho Democrats won’t criticize Jordan. Why? They need her supporters.

By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports

In a Democratic primary where candidates are almost identical on the issues, the conversation has turned to endorsements.

In case you’ve missed the social media bickering and debate jabs from the last few weeks, here’s a summary: Paulette Jordan has national support, touting endorsements from well-known progressives like Cher, Van Jones and Khizr Khan. Missing from that list: Any of the Democratic lawmakers she served with in the Legislature. Twelve of the 17 have endorsed AJ Balukoff, while the other five are staying neutral. Balukoff also has endorsements from Idaho Democratic heavy hitters past and present: former House minority leaders Wendy Jaquet and John Rusche, retired Rep. Shirley Ringo, and former U.S. Attorney Betty Richardson, among many others.

To her credit, Jordan and her team have turned her lack of legislative endorsements into a plus. They hosted a rally the Saturday before the primary called “Endorsed By The People,” taking advantage of the same anti-establishment fervor that gained both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump so much support in 2016. Meanwhile, Balukoff has kept his campaign positive, focusing on his support and not attacking hers.

Still, Democrats and independents have noticed. Sprinkled among the #ImWithPaulette and #BlueWave tweets are persistent questions from uneasy voters: Why doesn’t Jordan have any endorsements from her former colleagues?

And why aren’t those lawmakers being frank about why they don’t back Jordan?

There are a handful of documented frustrations surrounding Jordan’s time in the Legislature. She didn’t shepherd much of anything into law. (Compare that to Reps. Ilana Rubel and Melissa Wintrow, both of whom were voted into office in 2014, the same year as Jordan. They have been at the forefront of a multitude of high-profile, bipartisan issues, including mandatory minimums, changes to rape kit testing, and civil asset forfeiture reform.)

Jordan resigned in the middle of the 2018 legislative session, leaving District 5 without a representative — and Democrats down a vote on the critical House State Affairs Committee for more than a week while Gov. Butch Otter decided on a replacement.

There are other grumblings and rumors about about Jordan — note the high-level staffers leaving her campaign days before the primary. And a recent Balukoff endorsement from Rep. Sue Chew, who spent a good amount of time working for Paulette Jordan’s legislative campaign, raised eyebrows among Boise politicos.

But when reporters ask for comments on the record, Democrats demur, preferring instead to focus on why they support Balukoff.

Why? One theory: Even with all their frustrations with Jordan supporters, establishment Democrats don’t want to alienate this new, energetic base.

The last Democratic governor, Cecil Andrus, left office in January 1995. There are Paulette Jordan supporters who were born after that, who have never known an Idaho where Democrats were a force. Jordan herself wasn’t old enough to vote at the time. (To be clear, neither was this reporter.) Endorsements from former Democratic heavyweights mean a lot to establishment party members, but the 20- and 30-something progressives who are backing Jordan have made it clear they’re not impressed.  

There are short-term considerations, too. If Jordan wins the primary, Idaho Dems will have to rally behind her in an attempt to disrupt the long streak of Republican rule in Idaho. They know anything they say about Jordan now could be used against her in the general election. Democrats have no room for error in November if they hope to beat the GOP nominee. They can’t afford a #NeverPaulette or a #NeverAJ movement; They’ll need every vote they can get.

Even if that excitement can’t get Jordan or Balukoff into the governor’s office, increased turnout from progressives could help Dem candidates in close legislative districts, or even elect a Democratic state superintendent. Young voters are excited to vote for Paulette Jordan in the primary, sure, but can the party get them to show up for the Cindy Wilsons and the David Nelsons and the Mark Nyes in the general? Not if Democratic elders estrange them now.

Regardless of who wins the nomination for governor, the Jordan supporters are going to play a big role in the future of the Idaho Democratic Party — as long as the party figures out how to harness that energy and enthusiasm.

The fight isn’t so much about who will be the next governor. It’s about the identity of the party moving forward. And in that sense, Jordan may have already won.  

 

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